Published On: Wed, Jun 26th, 2019

What Happens if You’re Ever Charged with a Crime

It’s the kind of situation you’ll want to avoid, but being charged with a crime is something that could happen. Whatever crime you’re being charged with, there are certain procedures and processes you’ll have to go through. Throughout the legal process, certain constitutional protections apply, and there are also certain procedures that are roughly the same whatever jurisdiction you find yourself in. Knowing what is going to happen and you’re rights after you’re arrested means you can make sure you get treated in the right way. 

Being Charged with a Crime

Just because you’ve been arrested, it doesn’t mean you’ll be charged with a crime. It can happen when a judge issues a warrant for a person’s arrest. The warrant states the charge for which a person is being arrested, and it will be issued in person by a police officer. It’s not necessary for the police officer to have a copy of the warrant at the time of the arrest, but they do have to provide one to the arrested person within a reasonable length of time. 

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

Being Arrested

After being arrested, the person will be taken to a police station where they’re booked in. Certain procedural requirements have to be completed, and fingerprints will be taken. If you find yourself in this situation, you could then be held in police custody for up to 48 hours, pending a court hearing.

At this stage, it is your right to speak with an attorney. You will be allowed to contact one and meet with them before your initial court hearing. You may already have the details of a criminal defense attorney, but if you haven’t, there will be several to choose from in the area. If you find yourself facing criminal charges in Texas, for example, you can get in touch with Cole Paschall Law. 

Your Court Hearing

When you appear in court for your hearing, the judge will read the charges against you. This will be the first time you hear the charges if you were arrested without a warrant. The charges will be explained to you if you don’t understand and you’ll then be asked to enter a plea. You have three options. You can enter a plea of not guilty, no contest, or guilty

If you plead not guilty, the government will have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you’re guilty of the crime you’re being charged with. It is left to a jury to decide, based on the evidence presented by both sides, whether you’re guilty or not guilty. It is possible, in some cases, for you to waive your right to a jury trial. In this instance, it will be up to the judge to decide whether you’re guilty or not guilty. Your attorney will advise you on the best course of action. 

If you’re found not guilty, you’ll be released from custody. If you’re found guilty or entered a plea of no contest or guilty there then has to be a sentencing hearing. A pre-sentencing report will be made which details any prior criminal history you might have. This information helps the judge decide on the appropriate sentence.

Author: Carol Trehearn

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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